Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Friendly Games

 Our 'Friendly Games' Discovery session was busy this morning with lots of Commonwealth Games inspired activities that encouraged the children to practise their friendship skills.
 Here we are completing a mountain biking dot to dot, last night New Zealand came 1st and 2nd in the mens mountain biking!


 The children enjoying taking turns on the fitness circuit.

 And this is my personal favourite - Judo Jaguar!

As the Commonwealth Games are in Scotland this year the children used blue paper triangles to complete the Scottish flag.

The children made these very cool highland terrier dogs - just like the real dogs that escorted the teams at the opening ceremony. 

 Photo from here.

These pipe cleaner people are ready to compete at the games, just use one pipe cleaner to make the head and legs, and bend another to make the arms. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Winter Wonderland

The day before our Winter Wonderland Discovery session it snowed overnight and when we came to school in the morning the hills around Upper Hutt were covered in a white blanket of snow. Perfect timing for our session and for lots of descriptive winter writing too!

The children had a great time exploring lots of winter themed activities. I particularly loved the snowmen made out of polystyrene cups with a cupcake case hat and sorting some winter clothes into washing baskets.


We have Discovery every Wednesday morning. Each session involves our three new-entrant classrooms meeting together and exploring activities based around a theme. Our pre-school visitors also join us for Discovery and it provides them with a time to visit school with the support of a parent or caregiver. Our visitors are called Mountaineers, they are scaling the heights of learning.

We choose themes based on special events during the term or topics the children have expressed an interest in. There is no shortage of ideas about what we want to discover. Each session is carefully planned to provide the children with a variety of experiences. We plan art and crafts, writing and reading activities, colouring, cutting activities, counting and number activities, sensory experiences, roleplay, cooking and food experiences, and cooperative experiences.  

When the bell goes in the morning we all meet together in one classroom share our class greetings, at Totara Park School we a very lucky that our Junior classrooms are joined by folding glass doors, so on Discovery mornings we fold the doors back and have a large space for the children to explore. After the roll the teachers share some of the activities that are available and talk about the types of behaviour that we are encouraging.

During the session the children can visit any classroom and complete or participate the activities that they are interested in. We are very lucky to have extra parent help and teacher aide time during Discovery and our Mountaineers parents are encouraged to spend some time with their children which help them to feel more comfortable at school. It can be pretty scary during the first visit and having Mum, Dad, or Nana there makes it a lot easier.

After our session we tidy up together and sit back down on the mat to share about what the children have discovered and how they worked together. 

Then .... 

.... it's morning tea time!

Click on the Discovery and Mountaineers labels to find out more about what we do during Discovery, or check out the Starting School and Transition to School Book pages at the top of the blog.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dinosaur Discovery

Here are a few photos of what we got up to for our last Discovery session of term 2. Dinosaurs provided us with lots of inspiration and is always one of my favourite sessions. 

We dug for fossils in the sand trough, made paper plate dinosaurs (click here for details), cut dinosaur finger puppets, made mini-colouring-in books (thanks Sparklebox), helped our dinosaurs hatch out of eggs, and lots of fun with our plastic dinosaurs.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Happy Matariki!

The Matariki stars start to rise at the end of May and the beginning of June, we celebrated Matariki a few days early (it traditionally begins on the the first day of the new moon following its rising - this year on the 28 June). Matariki is the traditional Maori new year, many years ago Matariki signified the end of the harvest and was a time of plenty.

We celebrated Matariki for Discovery with lots of star art  and craft, including making telescopes and making special Matariki star biscuits to eat.

We were very lucky to have a parent bring in lots of biscuits, icing, and special edible stars to feast on during our session, and the children really enjoyed icing and decorating their biscuit. 
When our Mountaineers (pre-school visitors) start Discovery with us we encourage parents or caregivers to stay to and help their children. Parental support makes a huge difference to the ease at which children  transition to school. The parents that stay for Discovery are always willing to help out and we appreciate the support they provide for their own children and others. Some of the activities we choose for Discovery can provide a challenge for some children to complete and a supportive hand from an adult to complete a tricky task is always helpful and appreciated.

Here is a short clip explaining one of the myths behind Matariki.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


 Check out these gorgeous sock puppets! 

We made them the other day during our 'puppet' Discovery session, along with lots of other puppets....

I especially loved the shadow puppet shows.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


This year Totara Park School started the milk for schools programme and after several weeks of drinking milk each day we have spent the last two weeks learning about cows and where milk comes from. Did you know that cows have 4 stomachs?

We wrote reports about cows and painted these amazing cow portraits. I used this blog post for inspiration for our paintings.

Before we wrote our reports we watched some clips from 'Rosie's World' and read some books about cows.

Here are some of our reports:

'Cows are animals. Milk comes from cows. Cows are red and white.'

 'Cows are animals. Cows make milk. Cows eat grass, they burp up the cud. Cows have 4 stomachs. The grass goes into one tummy then into the next tummy.'

'Cows are animals. They make milk. They eat the grass and burp the cud.'

'Cows are animals. They make milk from their udders. They are white and they are brown. Cows eat grass. Then they make milk. They have 4 stomachs.'

 We have also been reading the first verse of The Cow poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Click here for a pdf.

Hero Discovery

We had a fantastic Hero Discovery session last week. We were very lucky to have some special visitors; a fireman, police officers, and 5 police dogs!

We practised our 'get down, get low, get out' fire safety procedure and talked about a safe meeting point. Later during the session the children got to make a fire-truck money-box and talk to Jamie the Fireman about his job. Some lucky children even got to try on his fire-fighting gear.

The police van came for us to explore and as a lucky surprise some police dogs dropped by for us to meet. We learned about how to pat a dog safely - after checking the dog is okay to pat with its owner, put your hand out for the dog to sniff and then scratch them gently under the chin or on the shoulder. After patting the police dogs we made some police dogs out of paper. Check here for dog origami instructions similar to what we used. We took our fingerprints, got to play with some real handcuffs, and try on a stab-resistant vest.
 We also turned into superheroes and practised saving J-Block!